In This Section

Subjects

The information below is designed to give you a brief overview of each subject, however, if you would like any additional information, please contact the Admissions Office at prep.admissions@cheltenhamcollege.org or 01242 265639.

ART AND DESIGN

At Cheltenham Prep, Art is accessible to all! We aim to promote an appreciation of art in local, natural and international environments, whilst also nurturing and celebrating the talents and interests of individuals. Cheltenham itself has a strong reputation for arts and culture, earned by its varied festival programme, which provides a flourishing artistic backdrop for our school.

Art lessons are taught in weekly 80-minute blocks, focusing on a new area each term. In the Autumn, we look at painting and drawing, considering traditional techniques alongside some slightly more unusual ones (writing names in graffiti style fonts and decorating umbrellas for a giant 3D project have been some of our artists' favourites!). In the Spring we explore printmaking: we enjoy the exclusive use of both an off-set press and an etching press, which pupils can use to print their own designs. In the summer, pupils get hands-on with ceramics and 3D models, seeing their clay creations come to life in our very own kiln.

In our large, bright, purpose-built Art studio, pupils investigate a variety of media, whilst exploring their own creative ideas. The children improve their observational drawing skills, opening up possible career avenues in engineering, architecture, graphic or web design, advertising, special effects and more. We also encourage a cross-curricular approach, which sees pupils’ work become inspired by new and old worlds they have discovered in History, Geography, English and Classics.

Cheltenham Prep was proud to host the SATIPS National Prep Art Exhibitions in both 2016 and 2017, which brought artwork from over 60 schools around the UK to Cheltenham. 

CLASSICS

Welcome to the Classics department, where pupils come to take a stroll through Roman Britain and the Ancient World. Here pupils take a hands-on approach to learning the Latin language, whilst discovering and responding to an ancient world which was very different to our own – and yet in some ways, markedly similar.

Starting Latin in Year 5 gives pupils a fantastic opportunity to meet the language at an age when they can really begin to enjoy both its demands and rewards. The main course text book is ‘Minimus’, which we complement with our own resources and activities. This allows pupils to cover the basic and essential elements of the language whilst also exploring the parts of Roman Britain that really interest them. Lessons take place twice a week for Middle School pupils (Years 5 and 6), and three times a week for Upper School (Years 7 and 8), and a shared focus on both Latin language and Classical Civilisation gives each pupil the chance to enjoy different aspects of the subject as a whole.

Having enjoyed our work on Greek myths, Roman life or Ancient Egypt, many pupils at Cheltenham Prep go on to study Classics at GCSE or A Level, but the subject fosters many transferable skills which are useful to all pupils. The logic required to form the Latin language is useful in Science and Maths, whilst the Latin vocabulary and sentence formation form a base for French, Spanish and Italian. The investigatory skills developed across both Classics and History lessons complement each other wonderfully and allow pupils to compare aspects of life in a variety of time periods.

Classics offers something for all pupils at Cheltenham Prep. Whether exploring Ancient Egypt (our pupils love learning about mummification and writing their names in hieroglyphics!), experiencing Greek and Roman Life (from being a soldier to an emperor or a slave) or discovering the city of Pompeii, buried under the eruption of Mount Vesuvius… every Classics lesson is an adventure. 

Computing

For many of our pupils, computers and portable devices are already a big part of their everyday lives, so alongside teaching fundamental IT skills, Computing lessons at Cheltenham Prep also cover a wide range of digital skills. From coding and animation through to dismantling and rebuilding a computer, children at Cheltenham Prep learn to be confident digital ambassadors.

During a dedicated lesson each week, pupils in all year groups use our Apple iMac suites to cover topics such as film making, animation, coding, e-safety, web design and blogging, Photoshop and computer hardware. Pupils even use the online game ‘Minecraft’ to create almost anything from imagination, whilst honing fine motor skills, teamwork and hand-eye coordination. The subject is not graded and there are no exams, allowing staff to take an experience-based approach. Confidence using different software packages, which can all be used across the school's curriculum, grows quickly: Word, Excel and PowerPoint, for example, will be used around school every single day. Pupils also gain speedy touch typing skills, an essential skill for life: think of all those English essays written in half the time, emails delivered lightning fast, or super quick Internet research completed for History projects!

Computing skills are valued throughout the school: the Music department is home to 16 Apple iMacs linked to digital keyboards for composing music, and pupils of all ages can be seen around school using iPads to investigate the world around them. 

DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

Design and Technology (D&T) at Cheltenham Prep is where children can combine their big ideas with new design and making skills, and begin to develop innovative solutions to the world’s big design problems. Whether crafting the wings of a bi-plane, building an MP3 amplifier or redesigning a clock mechanism, here pupils learn the basic skills required to safely and confidently use a myriad of machines and equipment, whilst challenging their creative thinking.

From Year 5 onwards, pupils spend 1 hour and 20 minutes per week in our brand new, state-of-the-art Design and Technology classroom, home to a 3D printer, laser cutter, CNC digital sewing machines and more.  The curriculum covers graphics (technical drawing and 2D and 3D CAD), textiles, resistant materials (projects involving wood, metal and plastic) and systems and control (electronics and mechanisms).

In the D&T classroom, pupils exercise their problem-solving skills by observing the design process in each new project: they outline a design brief before embarking on the necessary research, writing a specification, creating design ideas, undertaking the build process, evaluating their work and suggesting improvements. Above all, this process encourages perseverance and curiosity: if your product doesn’t work, why not? How could you change it to make it more effective? The subject also draws on knowledge gained in Maths, Science, Computing and Art, whilst nurturing self-confidence and teamwork by encouraging pupils to talk about their ideas and designs.

With the British creative industries currently booming, and manufacturers crying out for skilled employees, D&T at Cheltenham Prep hones the wide range of skills need to turn simple ideas into the products and services of the future. 

ENGLISH

A child’s entire school career rests on the building blocks of skills acquired through English; the key areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing underpin all subjects. 

During daily phonics and English lessons in Years 1-4, and four times per week for Years 5 to 8, pupils are encouraged to use the written and spoken English language imaginatively, confidently and accurately for a range of purposes. Outside of these classes, spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax are reinforced by all staff across all subjects. Children at Cheltenham Prep enjoy the fruits of their speaking and listening practise throughout every school day, whether debating a thorny issue with a friend, narrating a hilarious holiday debacle to the class, or speculating about the result of a competitive sports match. Reading for pleasure is encouraged, and pupils explore a range of texts, of varying genres, with a depth of understanding; our warm and inviting library offers a vibrant and cosy environment that nurtures even the most reluctant readers!

Pupils develop computing skills through English classes in our Apple iMac suites, where they can use everything from websites that are tailor-made for 11+ exam practice, to Microsoft Office Online, allowing them share their work and gain immediate feedback from staff and other pupils. 

We are so fortunate to benefit from a vibrant, cultural town, and so the Autumn Term is richly infused by the Cheltenham Literature Festival, where each child has the opportunity to meet, hear from and be inspired by a plethora of writers, illustrators and poets. Alongside this world-renowned festival, World Book Day, National Poetry Day, Shakespeare Week, the Punctuation Police, Awesome Anagrams and Spelling Bees all add colour to the pupils’ study of our wonderful language!

GEOGRAPHY

As they explore explosive volcanoes, polluted oceans, expanding deserts and endless other awes of the physical world around us, pupils at Cheltenham Prep become responsible and caring global citizens.

In the Geography classroom, we aim to stimulate pupils’ interests in their surroundings, foster their sense of wonder at the beauty of the world, develop an informed concern for the environment, and enhance everyone’s sense of responsibility for the care of the Earth and its peoples.

In Kingfishers and Lower Schools (Years 3 and 4), Geography is taught by class tutors and brought to life through investigation of our beautiful school grounds and field studies in the local area, including our own woodland Forest School. From Year 5, classes are taught by Geography subject specialists, enabling children to develop their skills in preparation for Common Entrance and Scholarship exams. Through a combination of field work (a vital chance to explore and discover environments in context) class work and independent study, pupils will cover such topics as rivers, coasts, tectonics, sustainability, population and migration, transport and industry, and map skills.

As well as fostering many skills that can be used across the curriculum (for example, data analysis, coherent report writing and fieldwork skills), Geography contributes generously to the personal development of our pupils. Classes engage in teamwork, especially during field trips, and pupils develop curiosity, allowing their independent research to further their understanding and enjoyment of the topics studied in class. Above all, pupils develop a sense of respect and compassion as they discover cultures and environments very different to their own. 

HISTORY

Whether it is the forgotten cry on the battlefield, a rustle of papers in the Houses of Parliament, the thousands of poppies outside the Tower of London, or a royal family that can date its beginnings back to 1066, Britain has a rich cultural heritage ready to be explored.

At Cheltenham Prep, the History department’s primary aim is to engender a love of studying the past. We encourage interest, curiosity, exploration and opinion, so that class members can not only pin point pivotal moments in History, but ask whether or not things could have been different, and how their understanding of events could inform and change the future.

Our broad syllabus proceeds along largely chronological lines from Years 3 to 8, and extends considerably beyond the core topics of the National Curriculum. During their two History lessons per week, pupils in Years 3 and 4 begin with Ancient Civilisations, moving to the Second World War in Year 5 and the Tudors and Stuarts in Year 6.  In preparation for Common Entrance and Scholarship examinations, lessons increase to three per week in Years 7 and 8, where classes cover the Medieval Realms Common Entrance Syllabus, focusing on the period from 1066 to 1485. 

Trips and excursions are an important part of our learning experience, and expeditions, both local and further afield, provide an immersive opportunity for students to learn about and empathise with the characters of the past. Recent trips have explored Canterbury Cathedral, Hastings and the Bosworth Battlefields and London’s Imperial War Museum.

History pupils conduct their own research, allowing them to learn to analyse and interpret information as well as giving them the confidence to discuss, debate and create their own theories supported by evidence. As many of our pupils agree, History should sometimes be hard work, often be fun and always be interesting.

MATHS

Mathematics is an essential part of life and it is also a subject which forms the basis of many other academic subjects taught at school. Alongside building a confident approach to mathematics, we aim to develop an enjoyment of the subject and an appreciation of the broader applications of the subject.

Pupils in Kingfishers are taught Mathematics by their class teacher, allowing staff to assess each pupil’s confidence and attainment ahead of setting in Years 3 and 4. Here, in classes with other pupils of similar ability, the children are taught by teachers in their Year Group, with a focus on the confident use of numbers and essential techniques for performing calculations, measuring, identifying shapes and solving problems. These younger pupils enjoy one hour of Mathematics every day, whilst pupils in Years 5-8 have at least five 40-minute sessions per week, reinforced by a 30-minute independent prep task.

All classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards and pupils have access to computers in both the Maths department and the Computing suites, allowing them to embed their understanding of mathematical theories and processes through games, coding activities and online quizzes.

Our eldest pupils find that their Mathematics lessons develop their mathematical skills and understanding in preparation for further study, as much as for adult life in general: we cover real life problems such as interest rates, finding areas of flooring and walls, reading timetables, approximating costs and values, and money management including budgeting. However, this curriculum also leads to the development of strong reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making skills essential for careers in the sciences, engineering, design, computing, business management and more.

At Cheltenham Prep, we pride ourselves in the fact that the pupils, no matter what their level of mathematical ability, enjoy their lessons and are able to recognise the progress that they are making in the classroom.

MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGES

At Cheltenham Prep, we see Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) not only as an opportunity to develop our pupils’ linguistic aptitude, but also to gain a vibrant and colourful insight into different cultures, traditions and people from around Europe.

A love for languages is embedded from Nursery, when our youngest boys and girls are introduced to French. At this age, when the brain is flexible to new sounds and patterns, lessons focus on speaking and listening skills, and the children enjoy a variety of songs and memory games. Reading, writing and grammar are introduced in Year 3 (supported by the highly popular Lower School French club!), and pupils continue their French education until Year 5. Here they are introduced to half an academic year of Spanish, prior to choosing either French or Spanish for the remainder of their time at Cheltenham Prep, in preparation for their Common Entrance or Scholarship examinations.

All language lessons are delivered by subject specialists, with a clear emphasis on enjoyment and participation, ensuring that pupils develop the confidence and resilience required to communicate in any language. For those pupils who may have joined us from another school, or those simply finding their chosen language a bit tricky, Middle and Upper School pupils can join ‘catch up clinics’ to work on specific areas such as phonetics, sentence structure and vocabulary choice.

During their time at Cheltenham Prep, MFL lessons foster aspirations to travel, empathy and understanding of other cultures, and curiosity about the world around us. We provide subscriptions to language magazines, trips to the continent, and annual language celebrations, which all add to the immersive experience of learning a language. Pupils who thrive in our MFL classes go on to use this lifelong skill for education, employment and leisure throughout the world. 

MUSIC

Whether on a musical tour of Rome, at the seat of a Grand Piano or in the classroom, every child at Cheltenham Prep has the opportunity to connect with the musical world. Working alongside subject specialists who are passionate about music, pupils are able to discover and hone their talents, explore their enjoyment of countless musical genres and develop the perseverance required to learn an instrument.

Our musical provision can be divided into three main areas: firstly, all pupils participate in curriculum music lessons covering such topics as composition, listening skills, theory, performing, singing, music technology and a variety of creative topics. Enjoyment of music is embedded from Nursery, where boys and girls spend four lessons a week discovering all sorts of instruments and songs, practising rhythms and discovering all different kinds of interesting sounds. Three lessons per week in Reception and one in Years 1 and 2 allow pupils to further their understanding of musical theory and interest in music making with a hands-on approach. All pupils in Years 5 to 8 receive one lesson a week, in which they explore a mixture of musical topics in increasing depth.

Secondly, all children have the opportunity to enhance their skills and explore their specific interests by learning one or more musical instruments. Currently, around 75% of our pupils are learning an instrument, a process that gently builds self-esteem, encourages patience and improves memory. In Years 7 and 8, these one-on-one sessions help prepare pupils for their Common Entrance and Scholarship examinations, and many go on to join national ensembles, such as the National Children’s Orchestra, or junior music conservatoires, such as the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music.

Thirdly, our broad range of co-curricular clubs and ensembles is open to everyone! Our four choirs, orchestra, jazz band, string ensembles, wind and brass groups, string quartets, cello trios, guitar group and percussion ensemble practise during lunch breaks and after school. These groups bring pupils with similar musical interests in touch with one another in a fun environment. Budding performers also build and cement their confidence as we work closely with the Drama department in major musical productions involving hundreds of pupils, such as Joseph and Oliver Twist.

Pupils study in our Lake House, a converted period building with a beautiful wood-panelled lobby, ideal for intimate recitals. As well as two large classrooms, Lake House is home to a fully equipped music technology suite of Apple iMacs and digital keyboards, 10 individual practice rooms, instrument storage and a music library. With it’s specialist lighting, sound and seating for 200, our Assembly Hall is the perfect place to practice taking the stage, but pupils also have access to College’s newly refurbished theatre, Big Classical, the chandelier-lit recital room, Thirlestaine Long Gallery, in Thirlestaine House and, of course, our stunning 16th century Chapel.

PE AND SWIMMING

We know that children enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle, and the PE and Swimming department aims to instil a love of physical activity, as well as giving pupils the core skills required to compete in a variety of sports and games.

From Nursery, our boys and girls are taught by subject specialist teachers during curriculum PE activities. These sessions focus on the development of key transferrable skills such as co-ordination, spacial awareness, balance and agility, as well as growing sportsmanship, competitive spirit and perseverance. The curriculum continues through Reception to Year 8, with activities such as gymnastics, athletics, ball skills, racket sports and dance. In addition to PE lessons, pupils also participate in games lessons and competitive fixtures in our major sports, which include rugby, hockey, netball, cricket and tennis. (You can find out more about our extensive games programme on the sport page of our website.)

Running alongside the PE curriculum is our comprehensive swimming programme for all pupils, which begins in Reception. Here, the boys and girls can find their confidence in the water, improve their stoke technique and take nationally recognised awards for water skills, speed swimming and distance swimming. The strength of our swimming programme means that many pupils enjoy the opportunity to swim in competitive races and galas.

All within our expansive grounds, children enjoy the use of rugby, football and cricket pitches, 2 full sized all-weather astroturf hockey pitches, tennis and netball courts, an outstanding sports hall, squash courts, fitness suite and 25m six lane swimming pool – the backdrop to an exciting and flourishing sporting environment. 

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

It is the role of the Religious Studies department to introduce all of the children to the main faiths, whilst fostering an appreciation of the UK as a multicultural society.

Children in Years 1 to 6 undertake one Religious Studies lesson per week. Kingfishers begin with an introduction to various religions and key festivals, whilst Lower School (Years 3 and 4) consider the main Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments and learn about Hinduism and Sikhism. Middle School (Years 5 and 6) discover some of the Bible stories in more depth, and also learn about Judaism, Islam and Buddhism. Upper School (Years 7 and 8) enjoy an extra session of Religious Studies, ahead of their Common Entrance and Scholarship exams, where they focus on Christianity and take a detailed examination of the stories of the Old and New Testament.

Alongside essential essay writing and study skills, pupils develop the confidence to present their opinion and debate with their classmates, as well as learning tolerance and respect for the opinions of others. Above all, the subject prepares pupils to grow up in and contribute to a world of cultural diversity.

But lessons are not the only place to discover all kinds of religion! Lower School enjoy a fantastic ‘India Day' each year, learning about the practice of the Hindu religion, and Middle School visit the Cheltenham Synagogue to hear a traditional Hebrew reading of the Torah. As part of a school community founded on strong Christian values, our boys are girls are also lucky to attend weekly services in College’s magnificent 16th century Chapel. Children in Years 3 to 8 attend these celebrations, bringing to life everything they have learned about the Christian faith in this beautiful, historic environment. 

SCIENCE

Science is a practical subject – so where better to practise than in our brand new, university-grade Science labs! This exciting department is always looking for engaging and exciting practical activities to improve our pupils’ progress: in just one week, staff might carry out lung dissections, burn food to investigate energy content and watch colourful convection currents swirl around huge beakers of hot water.

Science in Kingfishers and Lower School is taught by class teachers, allowing pupils to get to grips with following safety procedures and carrying out practical experiments. Pupils in Years 5 and 6 move into our dedicated Science facility: here they enjoy 6 single lessons (or 3 double lessons) per week, always in the same lab, with the same teacher. By Year 7, pupils are moving around the labs, undertaking separate Biology, Chemistry and Physics lesson, taught by specialist teachers. These lessons are taught in different labs, each containing specialist equipment, allowing pupils to engage with more and more complex experiments.

We strive to take a cross-curricular approach (you will find many of our labs decorated with atom and chemical models built in the art studio), and pupils are able to use their methodical approach to experiments, observational skills and curiosity about the physical and natural world in many of their other subjects. As a department, we benefit from the wider scientific and technological community: all pupils from Years 3 to 8 visit the Cheltenham Science Festival each year, and engineers from local aerospace engineering companies coach our STEM Club through the annual ‘Flying Start Challenge’ – a competition to design, make and launch a glider.